Jeremiah 17:5, 7 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.”
I had forgotten that this group of statements was in Jeremiah. It seems more like what we would expect from Psalms, but it does have several statements that are directly from the Lord, which is the very definition of prophecy, and Jeremiah was definitely a major prophet. That said, these contrasting descriptions are certainly worth taking to heart. The first sort of person is so common as to perhaps be in the majority today. This isn’t necessarily what we would think of as a “bad” person, it’s simply someone who turns to himself and other people rather than to God. Such a person is described as a Humanist, and that is seen as a good and admirable thing in society today. It would create quite a stir to proclaim, “Humanists are cursed,” but it would simply be quoting God! In contrast, the person who is blessed trusts and depends on God rather than on man. That is a sadly rare attitude these days. Whom we rely on shows our frame of reference. If we are focused on this world exclusively, then God won’t even enter our thoughts, except as a strange and “illogical” concept we overhear at times. We can’t escape this world completely, nor should we try to, because that is suicide, but we need to remember that we are eternal beings who happen to occupy slots in space-time for a while. That’s what Jesus was talking about when He said we are in the world but not of it. (John 17:14-16) When we remember that and keep our focus on trusting and obeying God, then we are blessed indeed.
I will confess to struggling with this myself, though I perhaps have more reason than most to understand what Jesus said. I’ve experienced “in but not of” on a strictly human level by growing up as a Caucasian in Japan. “Third Culture Kid” certainly applies to me, because I indeed synthesized my own culture from that of my parents and that of the nation where I lived. I had the real desire to be accepted as Japanese – after all, I was born here – but that never happened because I looked different. Spiritually, my parents certainly exemplified Kingdom culture, but I attended a US Air Force dependents school that was thoroughly secular, so there too I was between cultures. I have come to realize that all of this was to my advantage, because I have had to accept that I will never be the same as most of the people I am with, so God is the One to whom I turn. As this passage says, that is blessing indeed. I am still left with the temptation to depend on myself, particularly since God has gifted me in so many ways, but I am becoming more and more secure in the awareness that God’s smart and I’m not, God is omnipotent and I’m not. Every ability I have comes from Him, so it is only logical to depend on Him rather than on myself.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all the limits to my own ability that I run into every day. Help me be a good steward of all You have placed in me and keep my focus and my dependence on You, so that all of Your purposes for me may be accomplished, on Your schedule and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!